(Kinnaird Worldwide Family# 01)

Thomas the first Kinnaird of Culbin, in the Carse of Gowrie, where his descendants still worthily maintain the traditions of their ancient family. Thomas was the son of Alan de Kinnaird. Thomas was the eleventh generation from Radulphus Ruffus. Thomas Kinnaird married Egidia, one of the three co-heiresses of Walter Moray of Culbin, a descendant of that Freskin de Moravia, from whom sprang the Earls of Sutherland and of Duffus and various families of Murray in Sutherlandshire. Thomas died before 1440, in which year the King granted to Alan Kinnaird, his son, the baronies of Kinnaird, Culbin, Badfodelis in Aberdeenshire, half Nachtane in Fife, and Assint in Wester Ross.

These lands had been resigned in the King's hands by Thomas and his wife Egidia, reserving to the latter her liferent (a rent which she was legally entitled to receive during her lifetime) of Culbin and her right for a widow to a third of the income from her husband's property of Kinnaird. As heiress of the Murrays, Egidia also had possession of the castle and lands of Skelbo, near Dornoch, and others in the same vicinity. Thomas Kinnaird and his wife had two sons, Alan and Thomas.


In 1466 Alan granted to his brother Thomas, with their mother's consent (she was still alive), the lands and barony of Culbin, Delputtie, Easterbin, Muirtown, and Alkenhead, reserving to himself in liferent the Girseyards; and to Egidia her liferent of all the lands. This would appear to have been a wadset (a form of pledge or mortgage as a satisfaction for debt or obligation) by way of provision to the younger son, of whom nothing more is heard.

Twelve years later, perhaps after the death of Thomas, or on the occasion of Alan's marriage, he and Janet Keith, his wife, received a royal charter under the "white wax" of the barony of Culbin. Title was given to Alan (described as of Kinnaird) by "sod and stane" on 25th February 1478 at "the head chemyss of the lands of Culbin," John Terras, burgess of Forres, acting as procurator for that effect. Among the witnesses were William, son and apparent heir of Sir Gilbert Keith of Inverugie, William of Dalglish, the Lairds of Innes, Lee, etc. On 2nd March 1484, having resigned the lands into the hands of the King for new infeftment (the act of symbolically taking possession of an inherited property), Alan received a royal charter of the barony of Kinnaird and half Nachtane, to be held in combined fee by him and his wife in liferent, and afterwards by Andrew Kinnaird, his grandson. Alan Kinnaird died before March 1491, leaving two sons, Thomas and John. The latter married Marjory Mowat, by whom he had two daughters, Margaret and Elizabeth. It would seem that his father had legally transfered to him the lands and castle of Skelbo, with remainder to Thomas in default of male heirs. John died in 1494.


Thomas Kinnaird was designed, 20th February 1482, "son and apparent heir of Alan Kinnaird of Kinnaird" and, 15th March 1491, "son of the late Alan Kinnaird". After the death of his brother John, he started proceedings to take possession of Skelbo and found himself involved in litigation with his sister-in-law. For some reason or other it appears that he refrained from serving himself heir to his father for ten years. In 1501 Andrew, Lord Gray, received from the King letters of gift of the mails, profits and duties of the baronies of Kinnaird, Culbin and Nachtane for all the time they were in the King's hands through the non-entry of the deceased Alan Kinnaird; also of the relief of the said lands through the death of Alan and his wife and the non-entry of the rightful heirs (Thomas and his son Andrew). From the Lord High Treasurer's accounts we learn that Lord Gray received in lieu of the foresaid mails, etc., a composition of 333 6s 8d. On 23rd January 1501, Thomas was served heir to his father in the barony of Culbin. Five years later he sold the lands of Over and Nether Tilliglens in Edinkillie, a detached portion of the baronys to John Calder, choir leader of Ross, who subsequently conveyed them to James Dunbar of Dunphail. Among the witnesses to this charter were Andrew Kinnaird of Skelbo, "my son and heir," David Kinnaird of Kynimmont, and Walter Kinnaird. In 1507 Thomas Kinnaird legally transfered to Calder, probably as part of the above transaction, one-third of his Mains of Culbin resigned at Elgin by his nieces, Margaret and Elizabeth.

Thomas Kinnaird died in 1514. Of his two sons, Andrew the elder, inherited the estates or Skelbo, Kinnaird and Nachtane. He received title to Skelbo in 1508 "at the top of the stair ascending to the tower of the same." In 1525 his son John succeeded him and took sasine in the hall of the castle. Thomas Kinnaird had also a daughter Margaret, who married Hugh Calder, a son of the last Thane of Cawdor.


Walter Kinnaird, second son of Thomas. On 12th September 1510 his father, "for good stead and service done and to be done to me" resigned in his favour "all and haill my barony of Culbin, with the teinds and tenantry of the same and 100 merks annually out of any lands of the lordship of Skelbo." The charter was witnessed at Kinnaird by, among others, John Kinnaird of that ilk, and George, his son and heir. In 1540 Walter Kinnaird was charged with having violated the jealously-guarded rights of the burgh of Elgin. James Pedder, freeman of the burgh, was also mayor and officer of the Earl of Moray's lands in the eastern district of the county. In this latter capacity Pedder had arrested the laird on a grey horse belonging to a burgess (citizen) of Elgin. For this he was accused by the bailies (a municipal officer) and referred to a court of law, which found that he had "wrangit in arresting." The laird of Culbin masterfully said "the jugis now present has giffin ane fals sentence against James Pedder," and the prosecutor there-upon demanded that he should be summoned to answer for his contempt of court. There is some justification for the inference that Culbin's appearance and intervention in the burgh court were the result of a conflict of jurisdictions, and that he was connected with the earldom of Moray in some official capacity. This may explain the fact that Pedder was accused further "for purchasing of outdwelland lordship; that is to say, Robert Dunbar of Darris and Walter Kynnaird of Culbyn, the saidis James beand sworyne in tyme of making of him freeman nocht to hef purchest onfrie outdwelland men in contrar the towne nor any nechtbor of the samyn."

The date of this laird's demise is uncertain. He married (1) Marjory Dunbar, probably in 1511, for on 9th January of that year the King confirmed to him and her in combined fee, the lands of Delpottine (with the mill and grain-grinding fees). This may have been in partial implement of their marriage contract. He married (2) Margaret Murray. He had at least two sons, Alexander of Culbin and Patrick. The latter was possibly the Patrick Kinnaird, who in 1547 received a charter of the lands of Salterhill (Little Drainie), in possession of which he was succeeded by his son John and his grandson Patrick, the last-named of whom disposed of them to James Innes of Meikie Dralnie in 1616.


Of Alexander Kinnaird's career little is known, save that he met an untimely death at the Battle of Pinkie, near Musselburgh, on 10th September 1547, with many another Moray man of like station, including the laird of Brodie. Rose of Kilravock was taken prisoner, but was shortly afterwards released on payment of a substantial ransom.

Alexander Kinnaird married Barbara Tulloch daughter of Alexander Tulloch, burgess (citizen) of Forres (ancestor of the Tullochs of Tannechie, Bogton, etc.), and had by her a son Walter.


Walter Kinnaird was a young child at the time of his father's death, and spent a long minority under the guardianship of his mother who, and her father, in 1556, raised an action against Alexander Dunbar, Sheriff of Moray, for seizing and enforcing payment for the mails of Culbin lying in ward since the death of Alexander Kinnaird. The guardians of the young laird having failed to prove that they were "tutors testamentar" the Lords acquitted the Sheriff.

When in 1567 James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, married his infatuated Queen, the realm of Scotland was sharply divided into two camps. One of which Mary's half-brother, James Stewart of Moray, was the leader, and in the other the Earl of Huntly was a prominent follower of Mary. On June 13th the two parties faced each other at Carberry Hill close by the field of Pinkie, where, twenty years before, Alex. Kinnaird had fought and died in the company of Huntly, against an English army. Now his son, too, followed Huntly, but on this occasion the enemies were rival Scots. No blood was spilt. The forces supporting Mary and her husband were weakened by desertion, and of those who remained, some were wavering and half-hearted. The upshot was that Mary gave herself up to the insurgent lords, Bothwell fled, and their supporters were dispersed. This was in June, and seven month later a convention of Estates summoned Bothwell and his followers to appear in answer to a charge of treason. Among them were Patrick Hepburn, the last Catholic Bishop of Moray, three of his natural sons, James Innes of Drainie, Thomas Tulloch of Fleurs (later of Tannachie), two other members of his family, and Walter Kinnaird of Culbin (his nephew).

In 1570 Walter Kinnaird granted the lands of Laik to his uncle Patrick. During the following year he and his newly married wife, Elizabeth Innes, received from the Bishop of Moray a nineteen years' lease of his lands of Culbin, Muirtown and Laik for the annual payment of 12 6s 8d.

A quarter of a century passes, and we see Walter Kinnaird at a great wapinshawing (what may be described as the mustering of the Moray Militia) at Kilbuyak in the parish of Alves, where the local lairds and their armed servants met for military and other manly exercises. The review took place on 8th February 1596. The laird of Culbin appeared on horseback, armed with jack, steel-bonnet, plate-sleeves, hagbut, spear and sword. He was accompanied by his eldest son and heir, Alexander, similarly accoutred, with six footmen wearing steel bonnets and bearing lances or other such weapons, two of whom were fit to serve the King abroad, the rest "nocht abill " to serve without the country. The laird was now about fifty years of age, twice as old as was his father (of whom he could have had only a faint, if any, recollection) when he rode off with his little band of retainers to meet an untimely death on the bloody field of Pinkie.

If, unlike his father, Walter Kinnaird was not summoned to meet the auld enemy on the field of battle, there was no lack of neighbours with whom he might exchange verbal and litigious blows in defence of his marches or moss rights. In 1610, for instance, we find him at variance with Samuel Falconer of Kincorth,. both of them being ordained by the Lords of Council to find caution for their mutual  good behavior. Kinnaird signed a bond to this effect at Elgin on 15th August, for Alexander his son and heir, Wm. Dunbar of Braco (in the parish of Rafford), his son-in-law, and for a number of his tenants and servants, not to harm Falconer conform to the King's letter of 10th July. Among the witnesses was James Kinnaird in Whitewreath. Five months later those abovementioned, with Walter, William, Thomas and John Kinnaird, sons of the Laird, petitioned the Privy Council to have the amounts of their cautionries reduced, as being excessive and beyond what the law prescribed. Culbin himself, according to the prayer of the petition, "was but a mean barron of a very small rent," and the others but poor cottars (peasants who pay rent by doing labour) and tenants of Culbin, Kincorth's procurator passed from the charge against the tenants, but insisted that the caution to be found by Walter (senior) and Alex. Kinnaird and Wm. Dunbar should be fixed at 1000 Scots each, and that of Culbin's other four sons at 500 each.

For the benefit of those who may be tempted to overestimate the value of the Culbin estate before the great sand-drift, it may be noted that 1000 of caution was much less than the amount usually imposed upon landed proprietors in apparently similar circumstances.

Writing in March 1841, the then minister of Dyke tells of the discovery, embedded in a heap of rubbish, of a grave stone bearing the names of this laird and his wife. The discovery was made in the churchyard about eighteen years before the above date. The stone, having been cleaned, was found to be entire, its inscription legible, and a few years later it was placed for its better preservation inside the church. On the upper part the Kinnaird arms are engraved, with the initials of the Laird and Lady, and underneath the inscription:-

"Valter Kinnaird; Elizabeth Innes
The buildars of this bed of stane,
Are Laird and Ladie of Coubine
Qhilk twa and theirs, when
Braith is gane, pleise God
Vil sleep this bed within"

The year abovenoted may be that in which Eliz.. Innes died.


On the south-west of the Bay of Findhorn, where of old the river hugged the shore, lies the small estate of Binsness, formerly designated Easterbin and part of the barony of Culbin. In 1620, it was owned by Robert Dunbar of Wester Moy, and among the privileges attached to its possession was that of a fishing-beat at the Hill of Findhorn, a small village of which no trace now remains. In 1620, the tacksman of the boat and of the salmon fishing on Easterbin's portion of the river was Andrew Simpson, a burgess (citizen) of Forres, who during the month of March that year erected a corf-house in which to salt and pack the salmon he expected to catch during the ensuing season. On April 1, however, according to a complaint lodged by Easterbin and Simpson, Walter Kinnaird, son of the Laird of Culbin, James Smyth, and Robert Lin, gardener in Culbin, John Thomson and William Warrand in Aittinefauld, at Culbin's instigation, came to the corf-house, armed with "swords, spades, scheil aixis, and other weapons, broke down the said house, cut the turfs and timber into small pieces, and levelled the whole place equal with the ground." Three months later the complaint came up before the Lords of Session at Edinburgh. Among the witnesses cited to appear were several from the Hill of Findhorn, including Thomas Spence and John Gilzean. Young Walter Kinnaird appeared for himself and the other defenders, while of the witnesses cited only Spence answered the call. The laird of Easterbin was present for the pursuers. Walter Kinnaird gave his "oath of verity" in denial of the charge and, with his accomplices, was acquitted by the Lords, who decreed the absent witnesses to be denounced rebels. It is possible that in addition to the lack of evidence against him, young Kinnaird had the argument in his favour that he himself was in possession of Easterbin on a wadset, and therefore claimed a right to the fishings. That this was so, may perhaps be inferred from the fact that in 1625 such a wadset was redeemed by Robert Dunbar on payment by him of 2000 merks to Walter Kinnaird.

Walter Kinnaird married Elizabeth Innes (Alvie 1613), and died between April 1625 and April 1626. He had issue:-

(1) Alex. Kinnaird of Culbin, of whom hereafter-

(2) Walter Kinnaird (23rd April 1625, son of Walter K. of Culbin.) On the above date he granted receipt from Robert Dunbar of Easterbin and Wester Moy, of 2000 merks for the redemption "from me and Agnes McIntosh, my wife, of all and haill the said Robert his two ploughs of the lands of Easterbin (originally part of Culbin) now possessed by me in wadset." The deed was signed at Forres, and witnessed by John Kinnaird, brother of Walter and several others. It is very probable that this Walter was the individual of that name, mentioned later as of Rait.

(3) John Kinnaird. On 19th October 1633 he received a charter from Thos. Urquhart of Drumreoch (in the parish of Dyke) of two eight days' fishing on the fresh water of Findhorn, probably the same as that mentioned in a deed dated 28th January 1637, in which John Kinnaird and Jean Falconer, his wife, acknowledged receipt from Mark Dunbar of Grangehill (now Dalvey) and Ninian, his son and heir, of the sum of 5000 merks for the reversion of the second and fourth day's fishing of Findhorn belonging to the Dunbars and Thos. Urquhart of Birdsyards. In the following year, 1638, John Kinnaird and his wife lent certain moneys to John Dunbar of Hempriggs and Anna Fraser, his spouse, in return for a wadset of the westermost two ploughs of Hempriggs, in the parish of Alves. John Kinnaird died sometime before 27th March 1647, when Jean Falconer is described as "relict and executrix of the deceased John Kinnaird, sometime in Hempriggs, and now spouse of Wm. Brodie of Tearie (in Dyke), and later of Coltfield, in Alves".

(4) William Kinnaird, probably of Cassieford, and a Provost of Forres, mentioned later in this narrative to and mentioned in various connections elsewhere.

(6) Janet Kinnaird married Wm. Dunbar of Braco, and son of Patrick Dunbar of Blervie, in Rafford parish.


Served heir to his father, Walter, on 4th April 1626, in the lands of Culbin, viz., the Mains of Culbin, otherwise called Middlebin, McRoddach, alias Delpottie; the Hill of Findhorn, Aikenhead and Rochcaise, with mill and fishings, in the barony of Culbin. Alex. Kinnaird died in 1630. By his wife Anna, daughter of George Dunbar of Aslisk and Isobel Brodie, he had a son Walter.


At Kinloss, 13th September 1631, Walter Kinnaird received from James Spens of Alves, Kirktown, a charter of the salmon fishing on the water of Findhorn, called the common, alias the Sheriffstell, on the west side of the river and in the parish of Dyke, which charter received the Royal confirmation in 1642.

The united Parish of Dyke and Moy is traditionally associated with the names of the earliest Christian missionaries of Scotland On the small estate of Wester Moy there was, for instance, a croft malloch, the alehouse croft east of the same (lands). On the estate of Culbin stood a chapel dedicated to St Ninian, to which was attached a croft. On 2nd August, 1635. the laird of Culbin assigned this chapel croft "to Mr. Samuel Falconer of Kincorth and his son, William, the minister of the parish." Thirty-six years later the latter gifted to the Session "a parcel of ground of Ringham croft, belonging to him in heritage, and paying yearly three boIls or bear rent, for the necessity of the poor of the parish:" In 1673 the securities of "St Ninian's croft, granted by Mr. William Falconer and the laird of Culbin as superior," were handed over to the custody or the Session. It may be well to note that Ninian and Risgham were interchangeable names of the celebrated fourth-century saint, and it is to be presumed that the charitable bequeathment of land, which bears his name, still ministers to the "necessity of the poor of the parish."


During the year 1642 Walter Kinnaird was one of the principals in a series of charges and counter-charges arising out of a riot in the town of Forres on a market day. He had obtained a decree before the Sheriff of Moray against Francis Forbes of Thornhill, one of the Forres Magistrates and subsequently Provost for eight years. On a petition to the Lords of Counsel and Session, Forbes was granted suspension of the decree, and on 31st January he stopped the process of poinding (seizing a debtor's goods), at Culbin's instance, at which Culbin "grudging resolves to take his lyff." On the following day, accompanied by Walter Kinnaird of Rait and his son James, Provost William Kinnaird (his uncle), Alex. Dunbar of Brako and his brother William (his cousins), and others, he came to the Provost's house, and there awaited an opportunity to attack Forbes. Seeing him pass by they rushed out with cocked guns and pistols and drawn swords. Alex. Dunbar was the spearhead of the attack. Quite recently he had returned to the district. after an absence of several years, during which he was a fugitive from justice and from the wrath of his near relatives of Hempriggs, one of whose brothers he had killed in a, drunken brawl at Forres in 1636 Utterly lacking in respect for a mere Bailie, Dunbar pushed at Forbes with. sword and pistol, but seems to have done him but little harm. Some of the towns-folk then intervened and removed the victim to a place of safety. Later the persons named and Alex. Dunbar, the Sheriff, searched for Forbes in diverse houses of the burgh, but found him not. since he had escaped into the country.

Infuriated by their ill-success, Culbin and his friends turned their attention to Mr. Wm. Dunbar, a son of the deceased Gavin Dunbar, minister of Alves, who had rendered some assistance to Forbes, but he also fled before their fury, to seek and find refuge in the house of a burgher of the same name. Moved by righteous indignation and the desire to vindicate law and order, the inhabitants demonstrated before the Provost's house, and demanded that the disturbers of the peace should be apprehended. To this demand William Kinnaird refused to accede. On the contrary, he helped them to escape..

Culbin's version of the affray, as might be expected, was entirely opposed to that of Forbes, and probably describes the sequel to Alex. Dunbar's attempted assault. "Forbes, so runs the accusation, with a body of burgesses and nearby lairds, attacked the Provost's house, where Culbin then chanced to be, endeavoured to force an entrance, and shouted from the 'calsay foment many scurrilous and insulting epithets,' which need not be here repeated." In all likelihood the brawl partly arose out of some difference about local politics, for at the next election, William Kinnaird and his friends were ousted from the Council and Francis Forbes became Provost.


During the years 1645-1646 when Montrose and Huntly were harrying (pillaging) the North-East in the King's interest against the Covenanters, Walter Kinnaird's sympathies were with the King, and in the latter year he was forced to make a loan of 333 65 8d by the Scots Committee of Process and Moneys. When in 1651, Montrose made his ignominious progress as a prisoner from Assint to Edinburgh, the Laird of Culbin was one of the friends and admirers who convoyed him through Moray to the crossing of the Spey.

In the Valuation Roll of 1656, the lands of Culbin were entered at 913 13s 4d Scots (about one-sixth of the total annual valuation of the Parish of Dyke) a fact which might well deter modern writers from over estimating the damage caused by the sand drift. Save for occasional references to bonds and wadsets on the lands of Culbin and similar transactions elsewhere, in which Walter Kinnaird appears as a creditor, little more can be recorded about him. In May 1663 Alexander Brodie records in his diary, "Contin (Mackenzie of) dined with me, and Coubin: their discourse was savourless." Nine years later we read, "I did meet with Coubin and his son and friends, I did see in it matter of humiliation."

On 11th January 1673, Walter Kinnaird and his son Thomas, granted a charter of alienation (under reversion) for the sum of 9500 merks to William Dunbar (afterwards Sir Wm. Dunbar of Durn), brother of. Sir Robert of Grangehill, of the town and lands of Delpottie and Earnhlll, with houses, etc., and yard called Netherboll, Manor Place, etc., with the mill of Delpottie, mill croft, schilliag hill, multures, thirlage, etc. Little more than nine months afterwards we learn from Brodie, "George Dunbar told me that old Coubin died on Friday last. 24th October."


Walter Kinnaird married - 1st on 20th August 1629 Grisell Brodie, daughter of George Brodie, burgess of Elgin, by whom he had issue; 2nd Helen Forbes, daughter of John Forbes of Brux, and widow of Baron Elphinston, on 19th March 1644. She received sasines following on a charter by Waiter Kinnaird, and probably in fulfilment of their marriage contract, of the town and lands called the Binns, alias Meddlebin, the towns and lands of Laik and Scadefield, the lands of Doloch, alias Delpottie, with the mill and mill lands, the fishings, and wood at the Hill of Findhorn, and the Sheriff Stell, all in liferent.

Walter Kinnaird had by his first wife at least three sons and two daughters.

(1) Thomas Kinnaird of Culbin.

(2) John, of whom Brodie records that he had a son buried on 9th March 1684. This is almost certainly the John Kinnaird who married Violet, daughter of Sir Alex. Abercrombie of Birkenbog in 1667. on 12th July of that year the latter granted a disposition to John and Violet of the lands of Mountcoffer in the parish of  Edward. After John Kinnaird's death his widow married Robert Grant of Dalvey, and held the foresaid lands as her liferent. Her son, Walter Kinnaird, succeeded to Mountcoffer and married (contract 30th August 1697) Agnes, third daughter of Wm. Forbes of Campfield.

(3) James, who on 7th April 1678 granted receipt from his brother Thomas "of ane certain sum of money, and discharged him of all sums he (James) may, or may pretend to, have to any money, goods or gear, bonds of provision or portion natural at the decease of their father". The deed was written at Nairn by James Rose, and witnessed by Alex. Falconer (son of Colin Falconer, minister of Forres, and afterwards Bishop of Moray), and by Alex. Winchester, burgess of Forres. After the death of his brother John, in 1690, James Kinnaird became factor of the lands of Mountcoffer to his sister-inlaw and nephews.

(4) Jean, who married on 13th November 1652, John Rose of Braidley.

(5) Bessie married Thomas Tulloch of Logie, son of Thomas Tulloch of Tannachie, near Forres.


Thomas Kinnaird was born in 1630, and was served male heir to his father on 15th August 1677.

In the spring of 1655, as we learn from the Privy Council Register, Sir Robert Innes of Innes, Hugh Rose of Kilravock, and Thomas Kinnaird, yr. of Culbin, came into conflict with the lawless men of Petty. Acting on a commission from the Privy Council they had apprehended two "of that wicked crew" with a view to their appearance on trial at Edinburgh. A hue and cry was raised in the district. Angus Mackintosh, brother of the laird of Connage, gathered around him a company of some thirty men, Hector McLauchlan Ger McIntosh, Lauchlan McLauchlan Ger, his brother, half a dozen McEacherns, and others, "all bodin in feir of war," and armed with swords and pistols, upon the design to rescue "the said sorners and thieves." The Justices had conveyed the prisoners to Castle Stewart, where the Countess of Moray was then residing. Angus Mackintosh proceeded to attack or to make a realistic pretence of attacking the castle, placed some of his men in a barn by way of ambush, himself with the remainder advanced towards the house and threatened and abused the servants, presenting pistols to their breasts. He even presented a "bendit pistol ready to fire" at the justices, declaring that he should shoot the best of them through the head. Fortunately the pistol was timeously wrested from his hand, and the captors continued their journey with the prisoners, Angus Mackintosh and his followers pursuing them to Nairn, "using all the violence they could to rescue the said thieves." Having failed to accomplish this design, they sought to vent their spite upon those who had thwarted them. On one particular occasion some of the men of Petty came in a hostile manner (under the command of Callum Illach) to the burn of Brodie, with the intention of killing or robbing Thomas Kinnaird. They seized Wm. Brodie and threatened to kill him, but the alarm was raised. The laird of Brodie tolled the common bell. The men of the parish hastily obeyed the summons, and "the louse and brokan persons were scattered and dissipat." Nevertheless they succeeded for some time in keeping the country in "a continual fright and allarum."


The defenders were ordered to appear at Edinburgh on 3rd August, to answer the various charges brought against them. A number of witnesses in Dyke and Petty were also cited, including Alex. Dunbar, chaplain to the Earl of Moray; James Fraser, schoolmaster at Petty; Wm. Mackintosh, second son of Connage; and Wm. Brodie of Tearie. On the day appointed the pursuers appeared personally, and only two of the defenders and witnesses. The absentees were put to the horn, and their goods escheated (forfeited).  During the later Covenanting struggle, the then laird of Culbin, unlike most of his near neighbours, was a King's man. An interesting sidelight on his attitude in this connection is to be found in the story of the Fiery Cross in 1679. On 3rd May of that year, Archbishop Sharp was murdered at Magus Moor, near his Episcopal seat of St Andrews, by a small body of outlawed and desperate Covenanters. Almost four weeks later a band of some four score (eighty) men entered Rutherglen and publicly burned copies of those Acts of Parliament which had overthrown the Presbyterian polity of the Scottish Church. Thoroughly alarmed by these incidents the Privy Council took immediate steps to deal with the threatened revolt against arbitrary authority. The fencible (enlisted home guard) men, especially of the eastern counties, were called out, and amongst them those or Moray were summoned to the host. In his diary, under date 13th June, Alex. Brodie of Brodie writes - "I heard that the heritors and the militia were called out to march to Stirling." Brodie and his friends found themselves in somewhat of a quandary. They were Covenanters, but they were cautious, and they realised "the rashness of those that took arms and that they could not stand before the host."

Just then their attention was diverted by a rumour that the Macdonalds were marching toward the Laigh to burn and destroy the land. Brodie of Lethen had received a letter to this effect from his daughter, 'wife of the Laird of Grant, who may have welcomed the rumoured coming of the Lochaber men as a bogey which might deter the heritors of Moray from sending their quota of fencible men to Stirling.


When, early in 1685, a Commission of Justiciary sat in Elgin for the trial of recalcitrant Covenanters between the Spey and the Ness, various Morayshire lairds and others gave evidence with regard to this somewhat mysterious affair. Thomas Kinnaird of Culbin testified that "there was a meeting of the gentry at Auldearn," where Lethen (Brodie) produced the letter (referred to above) and advised those present to "stay at home and guard the country, and not to go to the King's host." He gave evidence also that at the same time "there went a fiery cross through the country which gave the same alarm." Some of the Covenanting lairds - Park, Brichmony, Kinsteary, and others - acted in accordance with Lethen's advice (though Lethen himself did not do so), but Kinnaird "opposed the notion of staying at home, and, having secured his papers in a stone wall, he and his son and several of his servants went out against the rebels." It is doubtful, however, whether they were in time for the battle of Bothwell Brig on Sunday, 22nd June. Alex. Kinnaird, yr. of Culbin, corroborated his father's evidence, and added that "there was no such thing as the Macdonalds coming down, but all was done on design to keep the people from going out to the King's host." In this assertion young Kinnaird seems to have been motivated by prejudice or malice. About a fortnight before the summons to the host arrived Brodie of Brodie mentions that "I heard of Macdonald, his insurrection, and taking arms and marching into Argyll," and a few days later that "Macdonald and Argyle had fallen in blood, that some were killed on both sides." "On 26th June there came an alarm of Highland men coming down, but it was Argyle's men," etc. At this distant date it is impossible to disentangle fact from fiction, but it is evident that there was some foundation for the rumour and some slight justification for sending out the fiery cross. Two years later, in 1681, an Act of Parliament, enacting the "Test," was passed, which made it obligatory for all officials, in Church or State, to acknowledge that "the King's Majesty is the only supreme Governor over this realm, over all persons, and in all causes, as well ecclesiastical as civil." The laird of Culbin, as a Commissioner of Supply for the County of Moray, had no hesitation in taking the Test and declaring his recognition of the royal prerogative in its most extreme form.


In other and more personal concerns Culbin and Brodie failed to see eye to eye. The former coveted (longed to possess) his neighbour's peat moss, his own being by this time, perhaps, hidden beneath the ever-encroaching sand. From coveting he passed to stealing (or encroaching), and failed to attend a meeting which had been arranged for an amicable discussion and settlement of the dispute. Brodie then made what was known as "civil interruption" by removing the peats cast by the servants of Culbin, and meeting the latter by accident and remonstrated with him on his unkindness. This was in 1680. To make matters worse Culbin began to build a house on the wrong side of the march. When Brodie heard of it he immediately convened his tenants and servants and set out to deal with this new interference with his property. On the way he was informed that the report was false. Next morning, however, he found that "Culbin and his men were in arms the last night at the new house." Mutual friends intervened, and by their advice the two lairds met at the bankhead. "There was no heat or sturr among us," and from the meeting they went to convoy the corpse of' a neighbour from the waterside of Findhorn to the churchyard at Auldearn. Two days later Brodie went along to Culbin to the funeral of a daughter of Kinnaird (Margaret), "a maid who had been long sick."

But mourning in company to-day may be followed by continued conflict tomorrow. On 26th July, when Brodie repaired to the moss, he found that many of the peats had been stolen. On the 28th Culbin's brother John "made civil interruption to the leading of the peats." Later Brodie heard that the new house built by Culbin's orders had been left without any indwellers. Hopes of a peaceful settlement were dashed, however, when a meeting with Culbin at Greshop had no effect.


At a meeting of Inverness Town Council at the beginning of April 1682, three of the Bailies were appointed to call on the Earl of Huntly and request him to implement his promise of a contribution towards the erection of a new bridge. On the way they were to visit various burghs, and lairds for the same purpose, especially Brodie, Lethen and Culbin, and "to be preemptor with them, so as not to trouble them thereafter thereanent." The Bailies would find it difficult with Culbin, if they were to receive anything at his hands. In June James Brodie remarks in his diary, "I heard of Culbin's debts and continuing difficulties, and of their profanity (use of bad language), that their daughter was with child." The last-mentioned difficulty might easily be overcome by the provision of a suitable dowry, but such a way out would but add to the ever accumulating burden of debts, which no doubt provoked their profanity. Creditors were many and clamorous, including Walter, eldest lawful son to the deceased John Kinnaird, Alex. Dunbar of Barmuckaty, Provost of Inverness, and Bailie Wm. Duff of Muirtown, in that burgh. The last-named compounded with most of his fellow-creditors, and received from them assignations of the sums due by Thomas Kinnaird. These were consolidated, according to Fraser Mackintosh, into one wadset right and disposition in Duff's favour, for 28,000 merks, granted by Thos. Kinnaird and his son and heir Alexander, sasine being given on 31st August 1682. The disposition was ratified by Helen Forbes, widow of the previous laird, and now living at Fortrose; Anna Elphinston, wife of Thomas, and Anna Rose, wife of Alexander, "'at the manor house of Culbin". It is clear that at this date the destruction of the estate was far from complete, though in all likelihood it had been in progress for many years. The various portions of the estate are described in full by Fraser Mackintosh, and need only be referred to briefly here - the Mains with the manor house, etc.; the Hill of Findhorn with the ferne coble, the mussel scalp and fishing (salt and fresh water), called the Stells of Culbin; the lands of Merrietown, Aikenhead. Middlebin, Laik and Sandyfield, Delpottie and the mill thereof, St Ninian's manse, Earnhill, the Sheriff Stell, etc. One of the "continuing difficulties" mentioned by James Brodie was that with Brodie himself concerned about the peat moss. On 18th November 1682 another meeting had no effect, though the Bishop of Moray (Colin Falconer) "decerned betwixt us." Almost exactly a year afterwards the disputants met once more, with what result does not appear, except that Brodie laments, "I fear that my keeping company with Culbin may be a snare to me." The snare was probably the temptation to over-indulgence in spirituous liquors, for after a meeting in February 1684, we are told "I took too much liberty. Oh, how oft do I relapse in this, and how oft am I entangled and overcome of evil." The Brodie diaries come to an end in 1685, and further intimate details of Thomas Kinnaird's career are not available elsewhere.

Thomas Kinnaird died in 1691. He married (Contract 2nd May 1653) Anna, sister of Lord Elphinston, and by her had two daughters, previously mentioned, and a son.


Alexander Kinnaird was born in April 1655. On the 22nd of that month he was baptized in Dyke Church along with half-a-dozen other children. "Young Culbin, his son Alexander, was one of them." Save for an occasional reference in the Brodie Diaries not much is known about him. On 22nd September 1679, "young Coubin and James Kinnaird were here all night" (at Brodie), and eighteen months later, "I heard that young Coubin was gone South last night." It is to be feared that Alexr. Kinnaird, like his father, had an evil influence upon the weak-willed laird of Brodie, who on 30th January 1684, with an aching head and an uneasy conscience, remarks, "I was entangled, or suffered myself to be entangled at Forres with young Coubin and the two or three bailies. Oh I so easy a prey as I am to temptation, the Lord knows." It is not at all unlikely that upon this and other casual references have been based the legends of Alexander Kinnaird's unsavoury character and reputation.

When in 1691 he succeeded his father as laird of Culbin, or what remained of it, Alexander Kinnaird found himself in a hopelessly involved financial condition, and under the necessity of surrendering. In l698, such interest in the estate as still remained to him. In this imaginative writers may discern a literal illustration of the belief expressed in one of our Border ballads, "But aye at every seven year they pay the teind to hell." The manner and the duration of the catastrophe by which the major part of Culbin was destroyed does not concern us here and now. We shall leave that to those who rely upon a vivid imagination, and a verbal memory of earlier articles on the subject for their descriptions of the great sand-drift, and confine ourselves to a statement of facts as revealed in contemporary documents.

In his Antiquarian Notes, Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh quotes from a rental of Culbin in 1693 amounting in all to 2,720 Scots, 640 bolls of wheat and similar quantities of bear, oats, and oatmeal, besides salmon fishings. As the rental is given in detail we refer interested readers to page 336 of the aforementioned work, with the suggestion that "the sameness of rent paid by different tenants" is such as can scarcely, if at all be paralleled in another rent roll of the 17th or any other century. Out of sixteen farms in all, thirteen, so we read, paid 200 Scots, and the other three 40, while every one of them paid, in addition, 40 bolls each of wheat, bear, oats, and oatmeal. Without casting any manner of doubt upon the authority quoted, we may be pardoned if we remark that estates in the 17th century were not usually divided on such clearly defined lines as that of Culbin. This rental appeared in a decreet of adjudication at the instance of Wm. Duff, bailie of Inverness, by the Court of Session in 1694. At this time, and until the estate was finally disposed of in 1698, the laird of Culbin had no respite from the claims of those who clamoured for their legal pounds of flesh (or sand).


In 1695 he (Alexander Kinnaird) presented a petition to the Estates of Parliament for relief from the heavy burden of land taxation The matter came up for consideration on 17th July of that year. We prefer to quote from, rather than to paraphrase, the relevant Act of Parliament, since it is easier so to do, and much more interesting to the reader. The petition sets forth that "where the best two parts of the estate of Culbin, by an inevitable fatality, was quite ruined and destroyed, occasioned by great and vast heaps of sand, which had overblown the same, so that there was not a vestige to be seen of his manor place of Culbin, yards, orchards and mains thereof, and which within these twenty years was as considerable as many in the County of Moray, and the small remainder of his estate which yet remains uncovered was exposed to the like hazard, and the sand daily gaining ground thereon, wherethrough he is like to run the hazard of losing the whole."

The petitioner goes on to complain that hitherto he had been required to pay cess (tax) on the value of the estate "when the same was entire," and that the whole rental of what remains entire "pays not half so much again as the cess amounts to." Parliament was therefore asked to take the premises into consideration, "it having no parallel in Scotland, and which was notour to a great many members of Parliament" (and attested by a certificate produced under the hands of thirty of the most worthy gentlemen of the shires of Moray, Inverness, and Nairn). Finally, coming to the point, Alexander Kinnaird craves exemption from cess on that portion of his estate already overblown, as also the small exposed remainder "in respect of the daily hazard it lies under from the sand, without which act of their Lordships' justice the petitioner was not able to subsist," etc. After some deliberation the petition was remitted to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury "to do in the matter as they find just." The latter body, having duly considered the (acts of the case, decided to grant relief from cess on two-thirds of the valued rental, but that payment must be made on the remaining third (304 12s 9d Scots), from Martinmas next, and for so long as the said lands are overblown."


The relief from taxation thus granted, did not ease Alexander Kinnaird's heavy financial burden for long. Creditors still kept pursuing him for the annual rents of their bonds or wadsets, and, as the condition of the estate worsened, for more reliable security than was offered by the ever-growing wastes of sand. Legal proceedings culminated in a decreet of ranking and sale. The estate was put up to public auction, and was bought, at the upset price of 20,509 10s 6d Scots, by Alexander Duff of Drummuir, son of Bailie Wm. Duff of Inverness, the principal creditor.

Alexander Kinnaird granted a disposition of the estate on 27th July. In this document it is stated that the purchase price was less by fully 6000 Scots than the amount of the debts due to Win. Duff and Sir James Abercromby of Birkenbog, the only preferential creditor, but that Alex. Duff "out of his kindness and good-will to me has at the date hereof advanced and delivered to me a certain sum of money for and in consideration of the transmission after specified, with my good-will and blessing." The description of the lands thus transfered from the family of Kinnaird follows in detail that contained in previous dispositions, and throws no light upon the extent of the havoc wrought by the sand. Alex. Duff received sasine of the lands on 17th May 1702, registration following on 10th August.


It may be that Alexr. Kinnaird's unsecured creditors had received some inkling of the ex-gratia payment to him by Alex. Duff, for the estate was no sooner disposed of than he found himself once more constrained to appeal to Parliament. We shall again have recourse to direct quotation. The petition narrates that, "having the three parts of his own and his predecessors' estate overrun with sand. and the fourth part yet remaining is sold for payment of his creditors, as far as it will extend, and having nothing but to recur to his frugality and industry for a living in time coming," he craves Parliament for personal protection from his creditors. To this request Parliament consented, and Alexr. Kinnaird was spared the further humiliation of being committed to prison for non-payment of debts, which were largely attributable, in legal phraseology (choice of words), to an act of God. Alexander Kinnaird's later life is shrouded in almost impenetrable mystery. All that is clearly known is that he died at Darien about the year 1700.

He married-

1. Anna, daughter, or grand-daughter, of William Rose, first of Clava.

2.1694, Mary, daughter of Alexander, 11th Lord Forbes (by his second wife Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Forbes of Rires), and widow of Hugh Rose (died 1687) of Kilravock.

Lord Forbes, a, Lieutenant-General in the Swedish Army under Gustavus Adolphus, died at Stockholm in the spring of 1672. His widow removed with their family to Bremen, where four years later she also died in exile. Mary, with the other orphaned children, was brought home to the land of their parents, and in 1679 she became the third wife of the laird of Kilravock. By this marriage there were six sons - Alexander, Charles (died young), William, George, Arthur, and John. Hugh Rose, died in 1687, and seven years afterwards Mary Forbes again entered the estate of matrimony with Alexander Kinnaird, then a childless widower.


It seems evident that she was "gey ill to live with," at least during her second widowhood, which was marked by almost continuous misunderstanding and wranglings with her nearest relations over money matters. But to suggest that she tramped the country for two years as a beggar, and that she died within a few months of her husband, is sheer nonsense. The life-rent of a laird of Kilravock's widow (however irregularly and sometimes incompletely paid) must have been sufficient to keep the wolf from the door, and even to maintain her in decent comfort, and that she was alive in 1715 can be verified by anyone who cares to take the trouble of reading the history of the Kilravock family.

Alexander Kinnaird and Mary Forbes had a son, Alexander, the last, so far as is known, of the family. Mr. George Bain, followed by many a slavish imitator, informs us that within a few months of the sale of Culbin both the laird and his lady were dead, and that "their infant son was then taken charge of by a faithful servant, who took him to Edinburgh, where she supported him and herself by needlework." As Mary Forbes was still to the fore in l715, the likelihood is that young Alexander was the object of her maternal care, and that the needlework of the "faithful servant" was chiefly exercised in the making and mending of the "young laird's" clothes. Mr Bain adds that the boy, when he had grown up, enlisted in the Army, and while in Ireland was recognised by his relative, Colonel Alexander Rose (son of Hugh Rose by Marie Forbes) who procured him a commission. As Colonel Rose was a step-brother of young Kinnaird, and probably reared in the same household with him for a time, one would assume (for lack of proof to the contrary) that the gallant soldier's interest in "his relative" was not such as to depend upon a chance recognition. It may be, of course, that Mr. Bain had access to sources of information not generally available, or, as is more likely, that he was relying upon tradition, which is too often a "lying jade." However that may be, there is no reason to doubt his assertion that "young Kinnaird rose to the rank of captain, and died unmarried in 1743."

Exerts from Kinnairds of Culbin by Rev. James Murray - 1938.

Additional information:
*Article on the Culbin Sands.

*Murrays and Kinnairds - Family Trees
*1590 Western Moray Map
*Memory of Scotland's One-time Desert